While there are no guarantees in terms of any particular company, you can increase your odds of always being gainfully employed—or have clients if you're self-employed—and that is by creating, maintaining and nurturing a varied network of family, friends and professional contacts.
In order to have a network, you must ahem, ahem network--even if you detest it. Networking is a tried and true method of securing success. For the previous two installments of this series on networking, I said I believe that I'm an adequate networker, however to maintain a constant supply of work for a lifetime, I need to continually improve this skill. One way I'm doing this is by studying the experts.
Recently I read two books for networking ideas. Below are a few tips from each.
Work the Pond: Use the Power of Positive Networking to Leap Forward in Work and Life by Darcy Rezac
- If you meet someone and they don't give you a business card, ask for one.
- Devote 45 minutes a day to reading a wide range of newspapers and other publications so you know what’s going on in the world and your community.
- Have a minimum of seven business cards with you at all times.
- Attend chamber of commerce events and other professional gatherings.
Click: Ten Truths for Building Extraordinary Relationships by George C. Fraser
- Surround yourself with people smarter than you, it's the easiest way to grow.
- See the strengths not limitations in others.
- Let people know you appreciate and need them, that what they bring to the table--big or small--is valuable.
While the above is a very condensed list, it still involves quite a bit of work. My philosophy is that it’s okay to just try one thing on for size first, then grow from there. For example even though I have desktop publishing software on my computer and know how to get card stock from the office supply store, I don’t have business cards. I usually end up writing on scraps of papers when I exchange contact information with someone. This is not attractive. A proper business card means I take myself seriously as a professional.
I can correct this networking mistake quickly by committing to get business cards by the end of this month. I’ll either make them or order them from a place like overnightprints.com where I can get 100 cards for under $10.